Tammy VerCauteren at Bird Conservancy of the Rockies let us know this morning that an unfortunate situation is unfolding at Barr Lake State Park. FRICO, the ditch company that built the reservoir and owns the water rights, recently increased the water level in the reservoir to accommodate more irrigation needs and water storage and other municipal needs. However, this has caused issues with trails getting washed out and the overall integrity of the lake. To mitigate, they are removing a great deal of shoreline vegetation and replacing it with rip rap.
They have already completely cleared the area from the NE corner of the dam to the boat ramp, and are installing rip rap there now. The cleared area is at least 30 feet wide. Yesterday they started work on a second section, from the boat ramp to the Pioneer Boardwalk. Again they have removed all vegetation including 100+ year old cottonwoods. The current plan is to continue this method all the way to the large bald eagle viewing gazebo on the south end of the park. This would completely clear out the area where the Bird Conservancy Banding station is, not to mention almost all the rest of the shoreline vegetation along the east side of the lake. The plan is to complete this work in the next couple of weeks.
Our understanding is that FRICO has extremely broad legal latitude to do what it is doing, even though Barr Lake is a state park, because FRICO owns the lake. The effects on habitat and wildlife are going to be severe, especially at the banding station which has been in place for 35 years. This is particularly galling because when the company filed a grant application to increase the water level, they touted the area as a great birding destination and argued that raising the water level would only enhance it. Now the exact opposite is happening.
To change the outcome is probably going to require a strong and immediate public outcry. You can contact FRICO at:
Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company
80 South 27th Avenue
Brighton, CO 80601
You might also consider reaching out to your state and local government representatives. If you are a member of a group that would like to get involved, contact Tammy VerCauteren tammy.ve...@birdconservancy.org